If you are considering homeschooling, you have most likely heard the term Unschooling and find yourself wondering more about it. Unschooling is a form of homeschooling that follows the philosophy of child-led learning. The goal is for children to follow their own interests at their own pace, without adults telling them what they need to learn or when they need to learn it. Parents become more of a facilitator than a teacher by watching and communicating with their children in order to learn their interests, then provide them with the resources, environment, and opportunities to follow those interests. It can be intimidating to let go of the expectations most of us have been taught, but children are naturally curious and eager to learn. We can trust them to know when it is time to learn as they are always in pursuit of knowledge. Let’s break it down a little more into what Unschooling is and what it is not.
Unschooling is not:
- School at home
- Determined solely by the parent
- Following a set curriculum (unless it is your child’s interest and best for their development)
- A one size fits all method with detailed directions about how or what to teach your child
- Children having control of and finding the best path to their own education
- Trusting children to learn when they are ready and interested
- Using simple everyday tasks as an opportunity to learn (ex. cooking can teach reading/math/chemistry)
- Valuing deep connections and an abundance of time together as an important part of the educational journey
- A lifestyle choice based on trust that parents and children will find their way together
You may be asking, but how do I actually Unschool? Well, Unschooling looks different for each homeschooling family and your unschool journey will not look like anyone else’s. If you focus on connecting with your child, listening to their interests, and providing them with the means to follow them, you will find yourself well on the way to your own Unschooling journey and a lifestyle built to support your child’s growth and development. Sometimes it might look like playing their favorite game and following where it leads, exploring museums and parks, showing them how to find more information about their favorite topic, using a curriculum they chose to learn more about a topic of their interest, developing a unit study according to their interest and letting them explore, or spending time outdoors exploring. There are so many different ways to Unschool, it would be impossible to list them all here. Just remember, when our children are authentically interested in a subject, they are intrinsically motivated to learn more. Also, show yourself patience and kindness during this process. You are embarking on a unique journey with your child. One that will lead you places you never knew possible.